Courtney Love caused a teeny stir this week when she raved about the hallucinogenic tea Ayahuasca. Sounding like a frat boy detailing his first blunt, Love shared some of the urban legends surrounding Ayahuasca, namely, that users experience identical visions of a mysterious "Black guy" (Editor's note: they don't).
To be fair, Love is hardly the first person to hype a dubious narcotic adventure. Today we run down a list of five weird drugs, identify their famous and infamous boosters, and review their supposed effects. Some of them offer a genuine kick, while others offer little more than a well-publicized placebo.
Drinkers of the trippy South American tea report seeing everything from daylong bursts of color and giant talking lizards to the usual taciturn yet benevolent Indian dudes that Jim Morrison wrote mediocre poems about.
Originally used in spiritual ceremonies, the tea's cult following grew stateside in the 1970s thanks to anthropologists like Michael Harner, author of The Way of the Shaman.
Ayahuasca's kick-ass psychedelic properties soon made it popular with rock stars seeking more than the hollow insights and crashing comedowns of LSD. Musicians who have sampled the tea include Tori Amos and Sting, who predictably reacted like a lightweight and reportedly ran around the campfire shirtless, crying out the names of his dead friends and relatives.
At least Paul Simon seems to have handled his Ayahuasca trip with maturity and perspective. Lamenting that the drug produced none of its promised visual delights, Simon conceded that it did give him a few melodic ideas for his mid-career song Spirit Voices.
Amusingly, Amazon locals are so accustomed to cheesy Westerners looking for Ayahuasca vision quests that they hang around local airports, posing as stoic holy men and offering American suckers tours of the jungle.
Even though Time Magazine ably reported on the bogus Ayahuasca industry a few years ago, demand for the tea and its hokey Noble Savage ceremonies continues to rise.
Our recommendation to you, dear seeker? Just call your kid brother in college and get the number of his `shroom contact.
Depending on where you hang out, urban legend has it that eating crushed nutmeg can either get you awesomely high or help you add muscle mass quickly when used as part of a workout regimen.
No one's publicly gone to bat for nutmeg to date, but we do recall an anecdote involving the spice and our former governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Back in his bodybuilding days, rumor had it that Arnold told a roomful of jealous weightlifters that he gorged on nutmeg to pump up his famous muscles.
Taking the bait, a few other juiceheads gobbled down pounds of the spice the night before a Mr. Universe competition and were promptly hospitalized with searing stomach cramps and projectile diarrhea.
As it turns out, nutmeg in mass quantities can be toxic, and Arnold supposedly spread the bogus rumor of its amazing properties to thin out the competition and better his chances of victory.
Cold, Arnie, cold. But brilliant.
About 20 years ago, the mischievous rock duo Ween talked up the artistic dividends of huffing Scotchgard, claiming they recorded their beloved album The Pod under the influence of the caustic furniture cleaner.
News of the potential high spread quickly via fanzines and word-of-mouth. Soon, disheveled creative kids nationwide had added Scotchgard to their stashes of cough syrup, hashish, and mom's wine coolers. Nerd fanzine writers even began arguing the merits of Scotchgard inhalation, with supporters noting the brilliance of The Pod and detractors arguing that huffing is still huffing, no matter who does it.
Unbeknownst at the time, Ween was only kidding around. As for all the kids who began abusing Scotchgard based on their gag? Rather than compose their own satirical rock masterpieces, most of them wound up with bloodshot eyes, migraine headaches, and in a few cases, writing gigs at OC Weekly.
Footage of Miley Cyrus doing bong hits of this drug last year briefly made it the bane of concerned parents and professional busybodies worldwide.
Since the Hannah Montana starlet has yet to fall into a life of porn and escort work, much to the disappointment of her male fans, the addictive and dangerous properties of this wannabe narcotic seem overstated. If Salvia isn't the next crack cocaine, then what the hell is it?
We researched the plant via the usual journalistic channels (Wikipedia) and found its description there a touch too dry. We next consulted with a panel of experts, including Jerome, the guy who sells bootleg DVDs near our office; famed New York criminal defense attorney Pablo Petraeus; and Miley's dad, Billy Ray Cyrus.
Jerome called Salvia, "fake shit like oregano" while Petraeus called it "mostly legal, so mostly harmless."
When contacted via Skype, a tearful Billy Ray called Salvia "the herbal demon that ruined my baby girl," before attempting to pitch us a story idea about his new reality series.
So what exactly is Salvia, again? Opinion is evenly divided between New Age types who revere it as a sacramental plant and serious party people who deride it as a crass pulse-quickener devoid of euphoric value.
We'll give the final word to Jerome: "It's catnip for teenagers."
1. Human Growth Hormone
Unlike everything else on this list, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a legitimate medical treatment available by prescription and typically used to treat kids with growth deficiencies or older men with dangerously low testosterone.
Extra-legal users favor HGH for its reported anti-aging and muscle-building properties. Thanks to lax enforcement, just about anyone with access to a Dr. Feelgood and a spare $20,000 can start shooting up the wonder drug without fear of reprisal.
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As a result, an A to D list of image-conscious entertainers has been linked to HGH, including rapper 50 Cent, producer Timbaland, songwriter Wyclef Jean, Rambo star Sylvester Stallone, infomercial queen Suzanne Sommers, and frumpy martial artist Steven Segal, who looks more like he injects high-fructose corn syrup into his veins than anti-aging drugs.
Although most of the people above deny using HGH, Stallone has been refreshingly transparent about it, crediting HGH with speeding his workout recovery time.
Another star rumored (but never proven) to have used HGH is Madonna, who claims that her midlife muscle surge is due entirely to Pilates and fancy diets.
We'd love to dispute her using a bunch of before-and-after photos, but based on the size of Madge's arms lately, we'd prefer not to get on her bad side.